Summits of the Americas Newsletter

October 2009 | Summits Online | Español

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Inter-American Social Protection Network Launched

Acting on the call issued at the Fifth Summit of the Americas, by the Hemisphere’s Heads of State and Government, to establish a network for the exchange of information on policies, experiences, programs and best practices in social protection, on September 22 the Organization of American States (OAS) hosted the launch of the Inter-American Social Protection Network (IASPN) in New York City.

The objective of the IASPN is to promote cooperation and information-sharing among countries and institutions on social protection practices that provide real solutions to help reduce social inequality and poverty. The IASPN will mobilize resources and strengthen institutions around the region through training workshops and technical assistance, and will continue to build on previous successful efforts to match recipient country needs with existing programs and methods that can be transferred.

The launch was inaugurated with remarks from US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) President Luis Alberto Moreno, and OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza. The OAS Secretary General noted in his remarks that the Network “will help us build the capacity we need to find new ways to break the cycle of poverty and inequality that affects too many of our citizens.”

Secretary Clinton highlighted the role of one such approach, Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programs, to significantly reduce indicators of poverty and underscored the role of the IASPN to help “determine what we can do to enhance the results from these programs and…the institutional supports that need to be put in to place.” President Bachelet joined Secretary Clinton in emphasizing the key role that social protection programs play in the consolidation and strengthening of democratic societies, while also noting that they contribute to reducing enormous inequalities.

Mayor Bloomberg highlighted the fact that New York City’s successful CCT program Opportunity NYC is based on the Mexican Oportunidades/Vivir Mejor programs, and affirmed that such exchanges are “the spirit of the Inter-American Social Protection Network that we're launching today.” IDB President Moreno emphasized the value of the IASPN as providing an opportunity to share best practices, and affirmed the Bank’s interest in supporting the Network, particularly in terms of evaluation.

A day long conference, organized by the OAS Department of Social Development and Employment, followed the inauguration. This forum brought together high-level officials and experts from governments, international agencies, the private sector, academia and non-governmental organizations to discuss successful experiences, define priorities and areas for cooperation, as well as to discuss the next steps for expanding the Network and other collaborative efforts in social protection practices in the Americas.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe presented a luncheon key note address to participants in which he provided a detailed overview of the impressive results of Colombia’s social protection programs, Red Juntos and Familias en Acción, and committed his country to the objectives of the Network.

The institutional partners of the Joint Summit Working Group (JSWG) figured prominently in the event, including special addresses from the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Regional Director for Latin American and the Caribbean of the International Labour Organization, as well as high-level technical participation from the Pan American Health Organization, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture. The Summits of the Americas Secretariat will continue to coordinate within the OAS General Secretariat, as well as with JSWG institutional partners and social actors to help support the consolidation and expansion of the Network.

For more information on the event and the IASPN, please visit the OAS Department of Social Development and Employment’s website at:

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